Celibate bishops support “institution of marriage”

Marriage and family are at the heart of a healthy social environment, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference states, but “political decisions can end up undermining marriage and providing less and less support for families despite a rhetoric that claims otherwise”.

The fact is that economic decisions have been less and less favourable to families in recent years; and it may be that political decisions in the future will undermine further the dignity and uniqueness of marriage as a lifelong union of man and woman,” the bishops say.”

It is ironic that a group of people who  have made a conscious decision not participate in the “institution of marriage” can see it as so important.  Clearly it is important, but not for them.

It is interesting to examine the logic and tactics behind this claim.

The tactic is to label a decision to support same-sex marriage as a  “political” decision. The implication being that anything that is political is inherently flawed. But the more important point is that same-sex marriage is, for many people, a question of social justice, not just politics.

Is just as valid to say that opposition to same-sex marriage is a religious decision.  For many people, myself included, that deciding issues of public policy and social equity on religious beliefs is a very poor way to make decisions affecting the whole population.

But it is the logic of the “undermining the Institute of marriage” argument that is so faulty.  Allowing same-sex couples to marry should not, and probably will not, affect the  relationships of established heterosexual couples.

Do the bishops really believe that the  legalisation of same-sex marriage would suddenly lead to the breakup of large numbers of heterosexual marriages? That a whole lot of  married blokes are going to say, “Great, it’s legal now. I’ll go and marry my best mate.”?

More than a hundred years ago, there were similarly fallacious arguments being extended to deny women the right to vote.


 There have always been people who turn their backs on important social issues. It’s usually men.

And hundred years before that, the argument was that people who did not own property should not be allowed to vote.

A recent letter writer to The Age said he found it incongruous that an organisation which had condoned, ignored and, indirectly, supported the activities of paedophiles should be expressing such concern about support for families.



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